The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Scholars from six countries gathered at the Hare Krsna temple in Detroit last November for a conference on Srila Prabhupada. Entitled "Srila Prabhupada, Deliverer of Krsna Bhakti to the World: A Centennial Assessment," the conference was the first major event of North America's Prabhupada Centennial celebration. Among the twelve scholars who delivered papers were five initiated devotees. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust plans to publish a book this summer based on the conference papers.
The Hare Krsna float won the Director's Award in Honolulu's Aloha Day Parade last September. About 350,000 people attended the parade, one million watched it live on local television, and in November forty million saw it when it was televised nationally on Thanksgiving Day.
On January 6, the honorable Mayor of Bombay, Mr. Ramchandra Kadam, presided over a ceremony renaming a road in honor of Srila Prabhupada. The road, formerly Gulmohar Road, is now Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg. The road is the major thoroughfare connecting the suburb of Juhu, site of ISKCON's "Hare Krishna Land" center, with the link road to downtown Bombay. ISKCON spiritual leaders attended the event, along with local civic leaders and the prominent industrialists Ashok Hinduja and Hrishikesh Mafatlal.
In June, ISKCON will dedicate to Prabhupada a memorial arch. The arch will span Gandhi Gram Road, the road opposite ISKCON's Juhu temple, at the point where the road meets Juhu Beach. Srila Prabhupada used to take his early-morning walks on that beach when staying in Juhu.
Devotees brought Krsna consciousness to demonstrations last September to stop the export of live calves. The devotees chanted Hare Krsna and passed out books and prasadam, food offered to Krsna. During a demonstration at Dover, attended by a thousand people, the devotees were shown on national television.
The decision on the future of Bhaktivedanta Manor will wait until April, say sources in the British government. Whether the Manor, ISKCON's temple outside London, will be able to stay open for public worship was to have been decided last November. But ISKCON's plan for a road to solve supposed traffic problems will take longer to consider.
In a related development, the temple and its former president, Akhandadhi Dasa, have been found guilty of disregarding the enforcement notice denying public worship at the Manor, and given an unusually stiff fine of £30,000 plus court costs. The charge stemmed from the 1994 Janmastami festival, which drew thousands of devotees. The temple will appeal that the fine be reduced.
Television viewers purchased more than six thousand copies of a vegetarian cookbook by ISKCON devotee Kurma Dasa through his television series, "Cooking with Kurma." The show aired for thirteen weeks.
An American devotee spent nine months last year in Pago Pago, American Samoa, introducing Krsna consciousness to the local people. Syamasundara Dasa, from Detroit, is the first devotee to distribute Srila Prabhupada's books on this remote island 1,600 miles northeast of New Zealand.
Devotees in Kisumu, Kenya, will consecrate the ground for a new temple complex. The ceremonies will take place on Rama Navami, the appearance day of Lord Ramacandra. The devotees will build the complex on land they purchased last October in a residential area near Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world. Besides a temple, the complex will include a guest house, an exhibition center, arrangements for prasadam distribution, a musical fountain with colored lighting, and a natural garden, to be named Vrndavana Garden. Devotees plan to complete the project by Janmastami, Lord Krsna's appearance day, in 1997.
Devotees from four West African states attended the installation of Gaura-Nitai and Radha-Krsna in a new temple in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, last summer. Government officials, business leaders, and other dignitaries also attended the event. The temple is the first of several planned for West Africa.
Last year Padayatra India completed its third tour of holy places in the Himalayas, including Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri (the source of the Yamuna River), and Gangotri (the source of the Ganges). The party distributed more than two thousand books and hundreds of photos of Srila Prabhupada announcing his centennial celebrations.
From the end of September until the middle of February, the Padayatra walked from Haridwar, in the Himalayan foothills, to Mayapur, West Bengal, in time for ISKCON's annual international festival.
The Padayatra team from England toured Vraja Mandala (the Vrndavana area) during the month of Kartika (October-November) last year. They put on twenty-eight festivals that included Krsna conscious plays, movies, and puppet shows. And they passed out 19,000 plates of prasadam during the five-week tour.
About forty devotees take part in an ongoing Padayatra in Bangladesh. They travel throughout the mostly Islamic country visiting Nama-hattas, or groups of ISKCON-affiliated Krsna devotees.
The walk that began in Belfast will reach Moscow in June. For six years devotees have walked in the summer and raised funds in the winter. This past winter the oxen and ox cart that accompany the devotees on their walk have been parked at the ISKCON farm in Minsk, Belarus. The procession will begin again when the weather warms.
Padayatra New Zealand
The Srila Prabhupada Centennial Padayatra for New Zealand toured the country from January 7 to February 11. The devotees started their walk in Christchurch and ended in Auckland.
A group of devotees plan to start a walk across Canada in April, from Vancouver to the Maritime Provinces. The walk will take five or six months and cover about five thousand miles. It is part of ISKCON Canada's observance of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial.